10 Children’s Picture Books that Celebrate Gender Diversity

Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

 

One of my most important jobs as a parent is to allow my children to have the freedom to discover and be their true selves. I want them to find their passions, inner drive, believe in themselves, and have the resilience to keep moving forward despite the natural adversity life presents. I believe it is important to surround children with love and acceptance from the start and the rest of their lives will fall into place from there. What career they ultimately chose is far secondary to the importance of how they feel about their life and themselves. Part of how I do this is to make sure we incorporate books in the house that celebrate diversity and present many different role models of people being who they are and standing up for what they believe in. Here are my recommendations and reviews for 10 children’s picture books that we have read that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage children’s play free from gender role stereotypes.

 

These books are geared towards readers 4-8 years old (preschool-3rd grade). My favorites on the list normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage readers to play and discover what they like. These books help surround children with messages of acceptance and support for themselves and each other.

The Reviews:

I read these books with my 3 children age 8, 11, and 12 and hoped that they could add their perspective on the books to benefit all of you. But beyond each child choosing a different favorite book (and all were predictable based upon their different personalities), their feedback was basically “I like them all”. Hopefully, I can give you a few more thoughts on each book so you can judge what your child may like the most. We have chosen 6 of the 10 books as our “family favorites”.

 

1. I am Jazz: *A family favoriteLooking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

By Jessica Herthel and Jass Jennings

 

I am Jazz is a true story about a transgender girl, Jazz, and her process of being appreciated for herself. Jazz touches on her love of stereotypically girl things, and her “girl” thoughts and dreams. She doesn’t receive universal support but has good friends and family that embrace her. Jazz believes that being different is special and what a person is like inside is what matters most.

 

This book touches on the struggles Jazz went thru but doesn’t focus on them. There is no overt bullying expressed in the book but teasing in school in mentioned. Although the book has gender role stereotypes of “girl things” this is Jazz’s story and speaks to what she herself loves and identifies with. Overall, I think its a great book.

 

This was the favorite book of my 11-year-old who loves everything “stereotypically girl” and would sprinkle glitter everywhere if allowed.

 

 

From the book insert:

“From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.”

2. Jacob’s New Dress:Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

By Sarah and Ian Hoffman

 

Jacob identifies as a boy who loves dresses. This book challenges the notions of gender roles stereotypes and supports gender diversity. Jacob’s New Dress has great illustrations and normalizes dress-up and using your imagination.

 

I wish there was less initial negativity by family and schoolmates about what is “allowed” for a particular gender. The family ends up coming around and despite bullying at school, Jacob has a good friend who supports him. In the end, Jacob outsmarts his bully and teaches him a lesson. The book ends on a happy note.

 

 

From the book cover:

“Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be— a pirate, a bird, a fireman! But he also wants to just be himself and wear his favorite thing…a dress! Now Jacob has a new dress that he made himself, and what he wants most of all is to wear it to school. Will Mom and Dad let him?  This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.”

3. My Princess Boy:Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

By Cheryl Kilodavis

 

The overall message of My Princess Boy is accepting and supporting children however they dress or express themselves. The Princess Boy receives refreshingly enthusiastic acceptance of his love of wearing dresses. His dad tells him how pretty he looks and his older brother dances with him. The illustrations allow the reader to use their imagination and demonstrate joy.

 

Overall, I like this book although it does introduce the concept of gender non-conforming kids being laughed at.

 

 

From the book cover:

“This little boy loves the color pink, and sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses, and sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy, and his family loves him exactly the way he is.

Inspired by her son, and by her own struggles to initially understand, this is one mother’s story about unconditional love, and one remarkable family.”

4. 10,000 Dresses:Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

 

 

By Marcus Ewert

 

10,000 Dresses is a beautiful children’s picture book about becoming the person you dream of; the person you feel you are inside despite what other’s say. The main character, Bailey, has an amazing imagination and dreams of the most creative dresses possible. Each time Bailey tells the family about them they say “boys don’t wear dresses”, or “That’s gross. You’re a boy!”

 

Bailey ends up making a friend and they create beautiful dresses together. This is great, however, the problem I have is this older girl is a stranger who lives nearby. I wish the support could have been from within Bailey’s family or network. We don’t usually teach our kids to go into the homes of strangers!

 

 

From the book cover:

“Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows. . . . But when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together… and Bailey’s dreams come true!”

 

5. Annie’s Plaid Shirt *A family favoriteLooking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

By Stacy B. Davids

 

A positive book written about Annie’s love of her plaid shirt and how she handled the pressure of wearing a dress to an upcoming wedding. Her mom initially insisted that girls wear dresses to weddings but Annie and her brother created their own solution. The siblings make a white suit that she wears her plaid shirt under. Annie’s mom ends up supporting her wholeheartedly and says her suit is perfect.

 

This is a simple book with a positive, fun ending. This book does not dwell on negativity.

 

 

From the book cover:

Annie loved her plaid shirt and wears it everywhere. But one day her mom tells Annie that she must wear a dress to her uncle’s wedding. Annie protests, but her mom insists and buys her a fancy new dress anyway. Annie is miserable. She feels weird in dresses. Why can’t her mom understand? Then Annie has an idea. But will her mom agree?

6. Neither *A family favorite

Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

 

 

 

 

By Arlie Anderson

 

This was the favorite book of my 8-year-old and we have read it numerous times. It is also one of my favorites.

 

Neither introduces tough topics like diversity, inclusion, and fitting in and presents them with pictures of adorable bunnies and chicks. Neither is about a land of “This and That” where everyone fits into a binary (either/or) category until “Both and Neither” come along.

 

The bunnies and chicks don’t want to accept “Both and Neither” and tell them to go to the land of “Somewhere Else”. “Somewhere Else” ends up being a much more fun place where all the brightly colored fun animals are accepted. Soon enough, others from the land of “This and That” come to join them at this new place where everyone fits in.

 

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From the book cover:

Only two kinds live in the Land of This and That. Can Neither find a home where all kinds live together?

7. From the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea *A family favorite

Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

by Kai Cheng Thom

 

This is another favorite of mine written about a baby, Mui Lan, who couldn’t decide what to be (boy, girl, bird, fish, cat…). Each day, the mom sings the baby a loving song full of acceptance and openness encouraging the baby to be anything they dream of being.

 

When Mui Lan was school aged they showed up to school with a tail of peacock feathers and tiger stripes. Everyone else at school was either a boy or a girl and at first, Mui Lan had a hard time making friends and felt sad. With the unwavering love and acceptance of their mom, Mui Lan kept returning to school and ultimately taught the other kids how they could have their own magical qualities.

 

 

From the book cover:

In the magical time between night and day, a child is born in a little blue house on a hill. And Miu Lan is not just any child, but one who can change into any shape they can imagine. The only problem is they can’t decide what to be: a boy or a girl? A bird or a fish? A flower or a shooting star? But they find comfort in the loving arms of their mother, who always offers them the same loving refrain: “whatever you dream of / i believe you can be / from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea.” Miu Lan faces many questions about who they are and who they may be. But one thing’s for sure: no matter who this child becomes, their mother will love them just the same.

8. Sid doesn’t feel like a boy or a girl!Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

by Dylan Greenberg

 

This book is written by a 17-year-old girl who is transgender. It doesn’t have a fancy cover but the illustrations inside are endearing. Initially unsupported at home and in school, Sid finds the support of her principal who turns out is transgender. The principle is able to explain to her family, teachers, and other kids what it means to be transgender. Everyone apologizes for being mean. The message about supporting gender diversity is clear and simple.

 

 

From the book cover:

When young Sid realized they don’t feel like they’re a boy or a girl, the people around them are slow to understand. When they go to school the next day, it doesn’t get much better when the teacher decides to separate the class into boys and girls. Despite the hardship they face, Sid discovers that love will always prevail and that being different is not a bad thing.

9. Jamie is Jamie: *A family favoriteLooking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

By Afsaneh Moradian

 

Jamie is Jamie is a sweet, bright, and cheery book “about being yourself and playing your way”. This is a great book that celebrates gender diversity and challenges gender role stereotypes in a kid-friendly and upbeat way.

 

The underlying message is about letting all children be children and free to play with whatever toys and games interest them. Through Jamie, her classmates see that they don’t need to limit themselves to what is a stereotypical “boy” or “girl” activity. The class begins to engage in whatever play they like without regard to gender norms.

 

One of my favorite parts of this book is the fact that there is no reference to bullying or teasing despite Jamie’s classmates wondering if Jamie is a girl or a boy. Kids often have no preconceived ideas that gender is a thing to tease about and I celebrate these books that present it as a normal part of the story.

 

 

From the book cover:

It’s Jamie’s first day at a new preschool and there’s so much to do! Toy cars to drive…baby dolls to care for…and monsters for superheroes to fight…Jamie wants to play with everything! But the other children are confused. Some toys are just for girls and others are just for boys, aren’t they? Not according to Jamie!

Who are you? The kid’s guide to gender identity *A family favorite

Looking for children's picture books that celebrate gender diversity in children and encourage play free from gender role stereotypes? Here are 10 books that normalize diversity of gender identity in children and encourage young readers to play and discover what they like.

By Brook Pessin-Whedbee

 

Who are you? The kid’s guide to gender identity not only tells a story but introduces terms used on the gender spectrum (cisgender, trans, non-binary, etc…) and encourages people to be who they are.  Concepts like identity are presented clearly. This is a great book for children and adults to read together. There are resources (a guide for grown-ups, key concepts, and discussion points) that can help guide the discussion with your child.

 

The author has a website: kids guide to gender which is worth checking out. The website includes has answers to common questions, information on key concepts, and resources.

 

 

From the book cover:

Who Are You? is an introduction to gender for ages 3+, with straightforward language for talking about how we experience gender: our body, our expression, and our gender identity. Ideal for use in the classroom or at home, it includes an interactive wheel and a guide for adults, explaining key concepts and identifying useful discussion points.

 

What do you think of these books? What did you like (or dislike) and why?

Please comment on what other books you love that celebrate diversity and strength. Books that inspire greatness and authenticity. Include books for adults too- we also need to be inspired!

 

Read here for a review of my all-time favorite children’s picture book:

A Preschool Book Reveals the Secret to a Happy Life for Us All…Yup, It’s That Good

 

To learn more about supporting gender diversity in children read this article:

2 Simple Things You Can Do to Support Gender Nonconformity in Children

Buy these books here: 

 

**Purchases of these books from the provided affiliate links supports the cost of running this website with no additional cost to you.

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